Experience with Pimsleur method

Hi all… i’m the kind of person who likes to hear and gets a bit inspired by other peoples experiences at learning a new language. So i thought id start a new topic for people to write about it.

Like how long it took for them to become fluent, if they are. Why did they start learning. Methods and approaches used to learn. How much exposure you had with the new language. Problems you came across. etc etc etc… anything you like.

Hope to hear from many of you soon!!!

Kind regards!

I’ve been living with my German girlfriend for three years now. Her parents don’t speak any English at all, and I’ve visited Germany a few times.

At my last employer, they offered free language tuition in German or Spanish via the LearnPlus website, so I started doing it. It’s pretty much standard Computer Aided Learning - drill-and-practice and the odd game. It wasn’t bad but I found it hard to spend the time learning it, although I did make progress with it.

Like I said, I visited Germany a few times and this helped to reinforce what I’d learnt but the LearnPlus method concentrates more on grammar and articles rather than actual conversation in the way that Pimsleur does.

I started using it a couple of months ago on the recommendation of a friend, mainly because it’s very convenient i.e. I can listen to a lesson every day on the way home from work on the Tube. I thought that it wouldn’t be very effective as the whole point of the LearnPlus (and other CAL packages) is that it’s interactive and that you get instant feedback etc. - but I was pleasantly surprised at how much progress I’ve made with Pimsleur.

The main things I’ve noticed are:

  • I’m much more confident conversing in German with my girlfriend and especially her family now.
  • My vocabulary has improved
  • I’m more fluent

The thing that I have found hardest in German is the word order, which at first seemed to be random and the opposite of English - but there’s a system to it and I’m finally developing an “inner ear” for what will be correct and what won’t be.

I’m really impressed by it (and my girlfriend is really surprised at the progress I’m making) … next month I’m going to Germany with some friends (none of whom speak German really) so I guess I’ll see how far I’ve come then!


Note, my experience applies to Pimsleur-Russian.

After visiting Ukraine with some friends and a Russian interpreter, I decided to study the language and plan a return trip. I chose Pimslear after only a short search. The main reason for my choice was the audio method. This allowed me to study under various conditions: home, car, workout, etc. I downloaded CDs to my iPod and had them readily available. Rosetta Stone requires that one sit in front of a computer. Since that’s what I do for work, I wasn’t tempted to add another PC-based activty into my life.

Learning a language is never easy. It requires dedicated work. Pimsleur provided instant gratification that I was learning. After a couple of lessons, I felt comfortable that I could speak a few sentences in Russian. Each lesson is only 1/2 hour of material. One will likely need frequent pauses and (at least in my case) a couple of repititions to master. With this positive reinforcement, I happily persevered.

Pimsleur works if you are dedicated. It’s not magic. I would recommend it if the method fits your life style and your learning style: on the go and learn by listening as opposed to visualizing. I learned the words/phrases and created the pictures in my head as opposed to looking at a picture of people dining in a restaurant, for example.

I think this audio approach works well for languages based on a different alphabet like Russian (Cyrillic), an Oriental or Arabic language. You can learn to communicate orally, then decide if you want to tackle written communication.

Using Pimsleur you will not have a formal understanding of grammar, syntax or writing. You CAN achieve–in a very short period of time–the ability to communicate in everyday situations. After a course or two, you should be able to travel comfortably in a foreign country.

Also, I suggest that you be clear on you goal. If you want to read, write, work in a foreign language–Pimslear will not get you there. If that is your goal, you may want to start learning the basics from the beginning. Pimsleur can only provide a launching point–but it can be the start of something very fun…

I highly recommend Pimsleur as an introduction to a new language. If you are considering travel or want to learn to speak with someone–this can work. Remember, it is work and you will need to apply yourself.

One thing I have noticed. I like having my Pimsleur CDs available. I can put them on anytime and practice my language skill. One of the easiest things is to lose your acquired skill for lack of practice. I’m now looking for audio books to grow my language skills…

After completing the first course in about 1 month, I was eager to master Level II. Pimsleur focuses on every-day language that would be used by a tourist. There is a bit of business oriented language, but it is far to generic to conduct business. For a tourist, however, the lessons were excellent. I felt that I could meet, greet, order food and ask for directions.

Feeling confident with my acquired language skill, I plunged into Russian II and started planning my trip. I planned to travel alone from St Petersburg, through Moscow, Kiev and down to the Black Sea using a combination of air and train.

I finished Level II in another month just days before my departure date. My trip was fabulous. I did find people that spoke english and helped me immensly. I also found people (taxi drivers) that took advantage of me and ripped my off. Many people marveled at my language skill given the short time I had been studying. Here’s a link to my photos…


Upon returning home, I started in on Level III. This took me a little longer (2 months) as I was not as focused. But, again, I mastered the course. I now have the vocabulary of a young child. With a dictionary, it’s enough to get around and strik up a conversation with a Russian native. (Although the conversation can’t go very far) I’m very pleased with my experience and motivated to further pursue my Russian skills.

Hope this helps. Best of luck to you…


Hello. I am taking German and Russian in school and Pimsleur has been invaluable to me. Its not the be all end all but its great to get conversational fluency but to master the language you HAVE to pick up the book and learn the grammer. After Pimsleur this will be an easy task.